Bhikkhu Bodhi on Nibbāna

I think MN28 explains that a condition for sense vinnana to arise is engagement. Without engagement one still hears sounds, smell smells, sees images, etc. but the mind does not get stuck on it. It does not catch the eye, ear, nose etc. And the sutta seem to say that this being caught by the eye, ear, nose etc. that is typical for vinnana. If visuals do not catch the eye, if sounds do not catch the ear etc there is still perception but is there vinnana? Vinnana, i think, also refers to a more or less frozen sensing, being fettered, being bonded to something particular. Being caught. Often it is much more then merely seeing, hearing etc.

I have seen this once being explained with a real life example. If you go by train you see endless things. But they come and go and the eye is not caught. But suddenly a nice house catches your eye . The mind gets engaged via greed. You find it beautiful and you want to own it. You starts daydreaming about how to get it etc. It becomes your world at that moment. Till the moment it all collapses again. To maybe arise again some time later etc.

This being caught by something, this eye catching moment, is a very different situation then before when visual just come and go. Not hooked. No vinnana?

MN28 seems to say that that being caught and getting engaged that is typical for vinnana. So that is also why vinnana is suffering because it represent a frozeness. Mind has become rigid, trapped, small-minded, obsessed, caught.

Even when we do not accept that vinnana’s only arise with engagement as condition, even then, i feel, we must with more care talk about vinnana. We cannot treat it as some bare consciousness. Vinnana is more like a mindset often, its colour dependend on how the mind engages with an sense object.

In this context, vinnana is distinguished from kamma-vinnana. Sutta’s almost always deal with kamma vinnana. For an arahant kamma vinnana do not arise anymore. That particular engagement of being hooked, eye caught, ear caught etc. does not happen.

So, it is also not really like this that for an arahant consciousness just arises as before.

i feel, refuge needs to take place in our own heart. Listening to our hearts. That is the refuge in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. The heart is the true teacher. The hearts contains the teachings, not the texts.
One must not rely on scripture says the Buddha. The true teacher is not view, some idea or conceivings.
If one hears about the goal of a mere cessation and one delight in that idea, one sees that as the end of suffering, that is not refuge taking into Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha but in some idea, in conceivings.

I have no more to say. I stop and gonna listen to my heart. It is about time.

You need not feel discouraged. Everyone is at certain stage of his/her own development. It’s normal to have diverse views on such delicate and important matter, considering we live more than 2500 years after the Buddha. If you read about Bhikkhu Bodhi, he talked about exactly the same situation among westerners in the '70s just as in today of two divided camps as “nothingness” and “somethingness” for Nibbana. This Sutta Central site, for the reason we all know, is somehow “biased” toward “nothingness”, but still there are many users like you and me are in the same camp, as Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ajahn Thanissaro etc. It’s rare to see you have such strong faith in Nibbana, why not make arrangements to devote your full strength to realize it? some tradition may claim it is very difficult to realize it, but I would say this is a lie. It’s not difficult to purify the mind.

Its truly amazing to read what Bhikku Bodhi says on Nibbana.

just I can say that according the Buddha teaching, that picture is wrong in all the steps. I would say in “my understanding” but I fear that in the whole Buddhist world the end of dukkha realized by the Buddha was not after-death.

And there are no aggregates to be grasped after the cease of the five-clinging aggregates. How such thing could be possible?. Precisely because this reason the Buddha taught the five-clinging aggregates.

Regarding Nibbāna not being mere cessation in traditional Theravāda, here is Ven. Dhammapāla’s commentary to the Udāna. Note that he says the light is the sabhāva of nibbāna, meaning it is real and not metaphorical. In traditional Theravāda Nibbāna really is something, its just beyond comprehension. Its not nothingness according to this school. The same with Sarvāstivāda too, obviously. In as far as I’m aware nibbāna was a real something according to the Mahīśāsakas, Pudgalavādins and some Mahāsāṃghikas too. It was only the Sautrāntika who said it was literally nothing, a final and true death.

1 Like

I recommend for those interested to the follow up of this to follow it in the link here. I leave it to the classical Theravada experts to reply for this.

Arahants have aggregates, just that they are not clung to. Isn’t there a sutta which says a skin of a cow cut off from the tendons still put on the cow, it’s still a skin, but without the connection. Tendons are like clinging, skin is like the 5 aggregates.

We can clearly see Buddha’s form didn’t disappear after his enlightenment. Thus there’s still form for the Buddha.

Namo Buddhaya!

I will add a general note on the sutta method of expression.

It is a disservice to oneself to oversimplify the sutta method into there being two kinds of nibbana because to master it one needs more than this.

I won’t cite the references but i will point out how the term is used & explained

  • “Designation of nibbana” being “the removal of taints”
  • “Definitive attainment of nibbana/dhamma” being “an entering into & emerging from sannavedaniyanirodha and having one’s taints removed by a seeing with wisdom.”
  • with residue
  • without residue
  • As deathless
  • As a removal of fetters
  • As a cessation
  • As a stilling of sankhara
  • As pleasant but nothing is felt
  • As ayatana where neither this world nor another world

There is much nuance & implication lost if one oversimplifies things.

1 Like

Yes, and Nibbana is often refered to as Peace:

  • the sublime state of supreme peace
  • the peak of peace
  • internal peace
  • state of peace
  • perfect peace
  • peace of heart
  • the peaceful state

If you like i will give the reference but i think we all know the sutta’s.

Also parinibbana is refered to as: ‘passing away to peace’

This peace is also called everlasting and as an imperishable state.

A practioner must be bent on peace, be a seeker of peace, the sutta’s share. That is the goal of the holy search. Not about being extinguished. A Dhamma practioner is a peace seeker. That is the same as seeking Nibbana. We all long for peace of heart. We cannot really live with a troubled heart but it is also normal that the heart is troubled when it awakens to suffering.

I have indeed strong feeling about this. For me seeking Nibbana is not like seeking to become non-existent as lifestream after a final death. No, it is the opposite. It is seeking to be ultimately alive.
To be fully present in this world, as it is. Fearless, with opened eyes, realistic, at ease but always in an unforced manner, natural.

If i would be a translator i would translate Nibbana as ultimate peace or peace of heart because that is what it really refers to in practice according the sutta’s. Extinguishment has all kind of weird connotations, like vanishing, but what is meant is that only the fire of defilements becomes extinguished. And the natural result of that is peace of heart. If the peace of heart must rely on the knowledge that one will not be born again, that is not real peace too.

The peace of Nibbana is different then the peace we can seek and sometimes feel.
All worldly peace is conditioned by this and that, or dependend on this and that. We all know the peace of heart of all going well with myself and children, business etc. Being healthy, not being confronted with trouble etc. Then we more or less feel in control, rulers. That comes with a certain peace.
We also know the temporary peace of sense-gratification. Or, the peace that comes with feeling secure with a loved one. Or the peace of being part of a community and being appreciated. We also know the peace of Identity/Persona. I know who I am and i present myself in the world as Jew, buddhist, this or that. That feels safe and that comes with peace. There is also the peace of volitionally produced nice mental states, forced. The peace of having succesfully ended a project. The peace that relies on some conditioned attitude towards other people, the world or suffering. The peace that relies on appyling insight in the moment. The peace that relies on strong belief.

All that kind of peace relies on something. If conditions change, or once effort fails, also that peace gets easily lost. I am convinced Buddha was not really interested in that kind of peace that is so unstable. What he sought was a supreme peace, meaning, a peace that is not that unstable, not liabe to arise and so easily also liable to cease. An independence. That is, ofcourse, also what can be understood as a real island, a real safety.

That is what he sought, that is what he found. He called it Nibbana. The peace of Nibbana is different from all peace above. It does not depend on being healthy, effort, volition, gratification of senses, some belief or view, etc. I believe there is a text that suggest that even an arahant must still apply some technique or insight to be at ease. That cannot be true. That would be absurd.

One can say, all peace described above is a result of attachment. But the peace of Nibbana is the mind that is without any grasping tendencies. The peace of Nibbana is the peace of detachment, of having lost all this unvoluntairy tendencies to get hooked to something seen, felt, known, etc.

Nibbana is a peace of heart that cannot be shaken. But it is easy to mistake this peace of heart with a peace that one has mastered with great effort and is the result of a longstanding conditioning proces, a proces of forming, making, producing. This is not Nibbana. Yes, i feel.

The peace of Nibbana is not some house one has build up with much effort. Ofcourse not. That is also vulnerable, liable to cease. It is exactly this kind of peace that Buddha was not really searching.

I have been schooled in purifying industrial water. I learned all kinds of methods because, ofcourse, not every defiled water is the same. Ofcourse one must know what is the right method for specific defilements. Applying the right method one can only remove adventitious defilements from water but one, ofcourse, never creates nor produces the water.

Buddha did likewise just teach methods to purify the mind from its grapsing tendencies. Vipassana, samatha, anicca, dukkha, anatta, all about developing this and that ability, it is all part of having the right tools to purify the mind. But one does never ever create the peace called Nibbana, like i also did not create water. All we can do is focus on removing adventitious defilements. But we never create the peace that is the natural state of a pure mind.

Unbinding, Nibbana is never a result of conditioning. I believe that is also why it is called the unconditioned. The Dhamma is not about conditioning oneself into a loving and peaceful person.
Not at all. Oh, that is such a wrong idea of the Path. Sorry, but i feel this is important.

1 Like

Here the references

“This, bhikkhu, is a designation for the element of Nibbāna: the removal of lust, the removal of hatred, the removal of delusion. The destruction of the taints is spoken of in that way.”

When this was said, that bhikkhu said to the Blessed One: “Venerable sir, it is said, ‘the Deathless, the Deathless.’ What now, venerable sir, is the Deathless? What is the path leading to the Deathless?” “The destruction of lust, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion: this is called the Deathless.

“Reverend, they say that ‘extinguishment is apparent in the present life’. In what way did the Buddha say extinguishment is apparent in the present life?”

“First, take a mendicant who, quite secluded from sensual pleasures … enters and remains in the first absorption. To this extent the Buddha said that extinguishment is apparent in the present life in a qualified sense. …

Furthermore, take a mendicant who, going totally beyond the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, enters and remains in the cessation of perception and feeling. And, having seen with wisdom, their defilements come to an end. To this extent the Buddha said that extinguishment is apparent in the present life in a definitive sense.” SuttaCentral

“Whatever exists therein of material form, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness, he sees those states as impermanent, as suffering, as a disease, as a tumour, as a barb, as a calamity, as an affliction, as alien, as disintegrating, as void, as not self. He turns his mind away from those states and directs it towards the deathless element thus: ‘This is the peaceful, this is the sublime, that is, the stilling of all formations, the relinquishing of all attachments, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, Nibbāna.’ If he is steady in that, he attains the destruction of the taints. But if he does not attain the destruction of the taints because of that desire for the Dhamma, that delight in the Dhamma, then with the destruction of the five lower fetters he becomes one due to reappear spontaneously in the Pure Abodes and there attain final Nibbāna without ever returning from that world. This is the path, the way to the abandoning of the five lower fetters. SuttaCentral

This nibbana is pleasant, friends. This nibbana is pleasant."

When this was said, Ven. Udayin said to Ven. Sariputta, “But what is the pleasure here, my friend, where there is nothing felt?”

“Just that is the pleasure here, my friend: where there is nothing felt. […] there is the case where a monk, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, enters & remains in the cessation of perception & feeling. And, having seen [that] with discernment, his mental fermentations are completely ended. So by this line of reasoning it may be known how nibbana is pleasant.”
Nibbana Sutta: Unbinding

Blessed One was instructing, urging, rousing, & encouraging the monks with Dhamma-talk concerned with unbinding. The monks — receptive, attentive, focusing their entire awareness, lending ear — listened to the Dhamma.

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

There is that ayatana, monks, where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor staying; neither passing away nor arising: unestablished,[1] unevolving, without support [mental object].[2] This, just this, is the end of stress.
Nibbāna Sutta: Unbinding (1)

This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: "Monks, there are these two forms of the nibbana property. Which two? The nibbana property with fuel remaining, & the nibbana property with no fuel remaining.

And what is the nibana property with fuel remaining? There is the case where a monk is an arahant whose fermentations have ended, who has reached fulfillment, finished the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, ended the fetter of becoming, and is released through right gnosis. His five sense faculties still remain and, owing to their being intact, he is cognizant of the agreeable & the disagreeable, and is sensitive to pleasure & pain. His ending of passion, aversion, & delusion is termed the nibbana property with fuel remaining.[1]

And what is the nibbana property with no fuel remaining? There is the case where a monk is an arahant whose fermentations have ended, who has reached fulfillment, finished the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, ended the fetter of becoming, and is released through right gnosis. For him, all that is sensed, being unrelished, will grow cold right here. This is termed the nibbana property with no fuel remaining."[2]

These two proclaimed by the one with vision, nibbana properties the one independent, the one who is Such:[3] one property, here in this life with fuel remaining from the destruction of the guide to becoming, and that with no fuel remaining, after this life, in which all becoming totally ceases. Those who know this state uncompounded, their minds released through the destruction of the guide to becoming, they, attaining the Teaching’s core, pleased with ending, have abandoned all becoming: they, the Such. Itivuttaka: The Group of Twos

Namo Buddhaya!

I want to make a note & draw attention to this point

This is basically the win condition in this training.

If i draw a parallel to a video game, eg mario, the win conditon there is to kill the boss and save the princess.

So i draw out two things

  1. Killing the boss
  2. Saving the princess

It would be a mistake to divorce the two.

Likewise in this dhamma the win condition is two fold

  1. Attaining cessation of perception & feeling
  2. Having taints removed by that seeing with wisdom

I notice that most interpretations nowadays focus only on the latter aspect of the win condition and completely remove the sannavedaniyanirodha from the equation.

This is not necessarily indicative of the interpretation being wrong or incomplete, but it might be both.

One can simply say that the win condition is a removal of taints

This is fine as long as one can explain how exactly and in dependence on what this comes about, and in doing so, have sannavedaniyanirodha be explained in relation to the seeing with wisdom by which taints are removed.

When I was notified of activity on this thread, I felt a pang of anger. Ill-will, if you will. Along with noticing that unwholesome mind-state I also noticed the following verbal formation…

“I wonder if the new comment has anything to do with Bhikku Bodhi?”

Thus, I make a plea to the community…

Help decrease my suffering…
Stay on topic.

I cant speak for the OP but speculate the topic would include:

A. Things Bhikku Bodhi actually said about Nibbana,

And perhaps more significantly -

B. what he did NOT say about Nibbana out of humility, heedfullness, and practicing the Dhamma according to the Dhamma.

I’m not involved in hiding the latest post. I have no idea of its content. If it has to do with the subject, I would be happy to see it if it complies with the community guidelines.

As you are referring to my response, yes it was relevant it was commenting on the OPs response to Christianity.

On the other hand the emotional process you just described is entirely unrelated to anything and disrespectful

I’m not referring to your response. A careful reading of my words should reveal that. I’m referring to the history of the thread and the Bhikkhu’s extraordinary care in addressing the subject.

I look forward to reading your thoughts on Bhikku Bodhi’s position on Nibbana.



If intent was different than the non verbal part suggests, namely context and reference, then that’s fine and no offense taken.

Dear Robert,

Thank you for your message. Rather than respond to each point in the discussion, I prepared a “Note on Nibbana” which explains, in brief, my understanding of nibbana according to the Nikayas and the commentaries (which I take to be consistent with each other on this point). I attach it here.

With metta,
Bhikkhu Bodhi

Note on Nibbāna (Bhikkhu Bodhi)

I understand nibbāna to be, in its own nature, an unconditioned reality. This is certainly the position of the mainstream Theravāda tradition as represented by the Abhidhamma, the aṭṭhakathā, and the ṭīkās. I think it is also the position that best conforms with the Nikāyas. The suttas speak of nibbāna as a dhamma, dhātu, āyatana, and pada—all terms that entail some kind of existence. As such, this element is apprehended by the noble ones in a specific type of experience, which in the Abhidhamma is identified as the magga and phala cittas.

I take as testimony from the Nikāyas two familiar suttas from the Udāna chapter 8. One is Udāna 8.1, which says, “There is that base (āyatana) where there is no earth, water, fire, and air, etc…” The other is 8.3, which says “There is an unborn, unmade, unbecome, unconditioned … without which there could be no escape from what is born, made, come to be and conditioned.” I know that some interpreters take “unconditioned” to mean merely the absence of conditioned phenomena, but grammatically this negation points to a subject that it qualifies, something that is not conditioned. Similarly, these interpreters take ajāta and amata to mean simply “the absence of birth” and “the absence of death,” But again, grammatically, the terms signify something that has not been born and that does not die.

Based on this, I understand the nibbāna element without residue to be, not just the ceasing of the five aggregates, but the attainment of that unconditioned state, which had already been realized by the arahant while alive. As for my statement in the Wisdom interview that, with the passing away of the arahants, consciousness becomes “nirvanized,” I meant by this that consciousness “goes out,” the literal meaning of the verbs nibbāti or nibbāyati, not that consciousness continues in nibbāna or that consciousness literally becomes nibbāna.

However, I don’t agree with those who understand the nibbāna attained with the passing of the arahant to be complete and absolute nonexistence, a position that would correspond to the stance that a materialist takes about the post-mortem fate of all beings. To my knowledge, the only school of early Buddhism which held that the nibbāna attained with the passing of an arahant is total and unqualified extinction was the Sautrantikas, and their position was contested by the Pali commentators. Ven. Nyanaponika summarized the arguments in his tract, “Anattā and Nibbāna.”

In my view, what remains with the nirvānizing of consciousness—with the going out of consciousness—is the unconditioned, world-transcendent nibbana element, which is described elsewhere as everlasting (dhuva), not-disintegrating (apalokita), imperishable (accuta), transcendent (accanta), immeasurable (appameyya), and even in somewhat later canonical texts (see below) as sassata, “eternal.”

The passages that speak of the goal as the extinction of craving, the cessation of dependent origination, the abandoning of the five aggregates, the cessation of becoming, etc., may be more numerous than those that hold up the goal as “the unborn … unconditioned,” but the two modes of description have to be taken in balance, and I regard the texts that point to the goal as the unconditioned to be the more authoritative.

Apart from the familiar suttas from the Udāna, there are several other suttas which, in my opinion, show that nibbāna is an actual entity and, as such, a direct object of cognition and realization. One is MN 64, the Mahāmalunkya Sutta (with a part-parallel at AN 9:36). Here is the essential passage:

"When it is said: ‘the destruction of the taints [occurs] in dependence on the first jhāna,’ for what reason is this said? Here, … a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the first jhāna. He considers whatever is present there pertaining to form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness as impermanent, suffering, an illness, a boil, a dart, misery, affliction, alien, disintegrating, empty, and non-self. He turns his mind away from those dhammas and directs it to the deathless element (so tehi dhammehi cittaṃ paṭivāpetvā amatāya dhātuyā cittaṃ upasaṃharati ) thus: ‘This is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, the stilling of all formations, the relinquishing of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, nibbāna’. If he is firm in this, he attains the destruction of the taints. But if he does not attain the destruction of the taints because of his passion for the Dhamma, his delight in the Dhamma, then, with the utter destruction of the five lower fetters, he becomes one of spontaneous birth, due to attain nibbāna there without ever returning from that world.”

The Majjhima Aṭṭhakathā explains:

“He directs [his mind]: He directs the mind of insight to the deathless element, the unconditioned, by way of hearing, by way of praise, by way of learning, by way of concepts, thus: ‘This nibbāna is peaceful.’ The mind of the path does not say, ‘This is peaceful, this is sublime,’ but one directs the mind to it, penetrating it by making nibbāna the object.”

Upasaṃharatī ti vipassanācittaṃ tāva savanavasena thutivasena pariyattivasena paññattivasena ca etaṃ santaṃ nibbānanti evaṃ asaṅkhatāya amatāya dhātuyā upasaṃharati. Maggacittaṃ nibbānaṃ ārammaṇakaraṇavaseneva etaṃ santametaṃ paṇītanti na evaṃ vadati, iminā pana ākārena taṃ paṭivijjhanto tattha cittaṃ upasaṃharatīti attho.

Another passage occurs in a number of suttas in the Anguttara Nikāya, Tens and Elevens. Ven. Ānanda comes to the Buddha and asks whether there can be a type of samādhi in which the monk is not percipient of any worldly phenomena, and yet he is still percipient (so it is not saññāvedayita-nirodha). Here is the version at AN 11:7:

“Here, Ānanda, a bhikkhu is percipient thus: ‘This is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, the stilling of all formations, the relinquishing of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, nibbāna.’ It is in this way, Ānanda, that a bhikkhu could obtain such a state of concentration that he would not be percipient of earth in relation to earth … he would not be percipient of anything seen, heard, sensed, cognized, reached, sought after, and examined by the mind, but he would still be percipient.”

As I read this text, the meditator is not merely reflecting deeply on nibbāna but is directly perceiving it in a state of meditative absorption. This must be an ariyan’s meditative experience of nibbāna, and I don’t see how this passage would make sense if nibbāna was just total absence of defilements and aggregates and not a real element existent in its own right.

Still another text is a verse in Itivuttaka 51 (Threes, no. 2):

The Taintless One touched with his body
the deathless element, the state without acquisitions.
The Perfectly Enlightened One taught
the sorrowless and dust free state.

Kāyena amataṃ dhātuṃ, phusayitvā nirūpadhiṃ;

Upadhippaṭinissaggaṃ, sacchikatvā anāsavo;

Deseti sammāsambuddho, asokaṃ virajaṃ padan ti.

Here, the amata dhātu is clearly nibbāna. In my understanding the verse is saying that the Taintless One (here the Buddha) has personal experience of nibbāna, an experience so vivid that it is described as “touching it with the body.” This is an almost tactile experience of the deathless element, the state without upadhis (probably the upadhi of the aggregates). If nibbāna were just an absence (of the defilements, of the five aggregates), I don’t see how it could be experienced so viscerally.

The verses of the former courtesan Sirimā, from the Vimānavatthu, provide another illuminating statement about nibbāna. Though this collection is a bit later than the oldest portions of the Nikāyas, it is still worth looking at:

V 143 : The Buddha, the bull among sages, the leader, taught me about the origin (craving), suffering, and impermanence; and he also taught the unconditioned, the cessation of suffering, the eternal (sassataṃ), as well as the straight and peaceful path.

V 144 : Having heard the Buddha’s message, the deathless state, the unconditioned, I became well restrained by the precepts and was established in the Dhamma.

V 145 : Having known the unconditioned, the dust-free state taught by the Buddha, I reached serenity and samādhi in that (tatth’eva). I am fixed in destiny (i.e., bound to reach final liberation).

V 146 : Having gained the excellent boon of the deathless, being certain in the excellent breakthrough (that is, having reached stream-entry), I am without doubt and revered by many people. I now enjoy delight and pleasure (in heaven).

V 147 : I am now a devatā who is a seer of the deathless, a disciple of the Tathāgata, a seer of the Dhamma, one established in the first fruit, a stream-enterer no longer subject to the lower realms.

  1. ‘‘Buddho ca me isinisabho vināyako, adesayī samudayadukkhaniccataṃ;

Asaṅkhataṃ dukkhanirodhasassataṃ, maggañcimaṃ akuṭilamañjasaṃ sivaṃ.

144 . ‘‘Sutvānahaṃ amatapadaṃ asaṅkhataṃ, tathāgatassanadhivarassa sāsanaṃ;

Sīlesvahaṃ paramasusaṃvutā ahuṃ, dhamme ṭhitā naravarabuddhadesite.

145 . ‘‘Ñatvānahaṃ virajapadaṃ asaṅkhataṃ, tathāgatenanadhivarena desitaṃ;

Tatthevahaṃ samathasamādhimāphusiṃ, sāyeva me paramaniyāmatā ahu.

146 . ‘‘Laddhānahaṃ amatavaraṃ visesanaṃ, ekaṃsikā abhisamaye visesiya;

Asaṃsayā bahujanapūjitā ahaṃ, khiḍḍāratiṃ paccanubhomanappakaṃ.

147 . ‘‘Evaṃ ahaṃ amatadasamhi devatā, tathāgatassanadhivarassa sāvikā;

Dhammaddasā paṭhamaphale patiṭṭhitā, sotāpannā na ca pana matthi duggati.

I don’t know of any other text in the Nikāyas that refers to nibbāna as sassata, “eternal,” but I don’t see any reason to reject this description. The eternalist view (sassatavāda) rejected in the Nikāyas is the view that the self and the world are eternal, or the view that some component of the five aggregates is an eternal self. But nibbāna is the world-transcendent state and thus calling it eternal does not mean a fall into the type of eternalist view condemned in the Nikāyas. Certainly, this text makes it clear that the sotāpanna sees the deathless element, nibbāna. Here, Sirimā says she has known the dust-free state, the unconditioned (Ñatvānahaṃ virajapadaṃ asaṅkhataṃ). Such expressions would be incomprehensible if nibbāna were merely the extinction of defilements and cessation of the five aggregates. And bear in mind that she has known this as a stream-enterer, not an arahant who has reached the nibbāna with residue remaining.

On Ven. Thanissaro’s interpretation of nibbāna, I agree with him in holding nibbāna to be a transcendent dimension or reality, but I disagree with his view that this reality can be characterized as a type of consciousness. His arguments rest on obscure verses and metaphors, to which he ascribes meanings that are not necessarily entailed by the texts themselves. In contrast, there are many simple, straightforward prose passages in the Nikāyas that speak of the attainment of final nibbāna as the complete cessation of consciousness. I do not know of any texts that qualify such assertions or distinguish between two types of consciousness—phenomenal and transcendental, conditioned and unconditioned. Rather, they assert unequivocally that consciousness arises in dependence on conditions; that it is impermanent, dukkha, and subject to change. And they say that with the attainment of final nibbāna, consciousness ceases without remainder.

As for the condition of one who has attained the nibbāna element without residue, the Suttanipāta tells us that this is indescribable:

“There is no measure of one who has gone out,
(Upasīva,” said the Blessed One).

“There is no means by which they might speak of him.

When all [conditioned] dhammas have been uprooted,

all pathways of speech are also uprooted.”

reply from B. Bodhi.


Namo Buddhaya!

I want to see his refutation of eternalist interpretations.

As i see it he makes some mistakes

In my view, what remains with the nirvānizing of consciousness—with the going out of consciousness—is the unconditioned, world-transcendent nibbana element, which is described elsewhere as everlasting (dhuva ), not-disintegrating (apalokita ), imperishable (accuta ), transcendent (accanta ), immeasurable (appameyya ), and even in somewhat later canonical texts (see below) as sassata , “eternal.”

One really shouldn’t say that something remains.

Parinibbana of sankhata is possible because there is an unmade.

The unmade is not part of what undergoes extinguishment, so how can it be something that remains?

And remains where? In some corner of the world or in a stable mode of mind’s persistence?

I would rather question him and Āyasmā Thanissaro about eternalism.

Somdet Buddhagosacariya says it all.

What Happens When An Arahant Dies.

1 Like

I do not understand why people do ignore that Nibbana is being described in EBT as the sublime state of supreme peace (imperishable (Snp1.11) one arrives at when all those defilements are uprooted and there is no clinging. This is something that does not refer to some total extinguishment of oneself, never, ever, nor like loosing oneself. The idea that one looses oneself when one looses defilement is not truthful. One cannot loose oneself. Only suffering can get lost.

If feel much confusion arises because of the choice to translate Nibbana as extinguishment.
But extinguishment of what? Of the fires ofcourse, and that comes with the peace and coolness of Nibbana.

I am the Accomplished One in the world,
I am the Teacher Supreme.
I alone am a Fully Enlightened One
Whose fires are quenched and extinguished. (MN26)

"What kind of person, bhikkhus, does not torment himself
or pursue the practice of torturing himself and does not torment
others or pursue the practice of tormenting others - the one who,
since he torments neither himself nor others, is here and now
hungerless, extinguished, and cooled, and abides experiencing
bliss, having himself become holy? (MN51)

This bliss is not the bliss of absence, non-existence, cessation of all. The bliss of Nibbana is just the coolness and the peace of Nibbana that is the natural result of a mind without any drifts, views, tendencies, conceit that cause engagement.

Nibbana is not gone out. Fires are gone out.